In our ongoing quest to create at least a few memories for our child that don't involve one or both of her parents being sarcastic or cynical, we decided to have a real Christmas-y family outing last weekend: we went to cut down our very own Christmas tree.

Back in October, when we were tooling around the countryside in West Virginia one weekend, looking for new places to live (we're not really moving, we just fell off The City that weekend and had to take a break before getting right back on), we happened upon a farm that boasted the opportunity to Pick Your Own Pumpkins. We stopped in to inquire how the process works - neither of us is really "city people" originally, but we are from the West, where we tended to... more... ahem... sneak onto farms at night and steal the pumpkins, rather than actually walk in like fine upstanding citizens and pay for them. So we inquired of the folks working in the hut at the front of the entrance, "How much does it cost to pick our own pumpkins?" We were handed a set of clippers and directed to the pumpkin field with an "Ummm.... big ones are about $6, little ones about $3.... everything else is somewhere in between." which I interpreted as 'we'll weigh them all and then tell you what they cost.'

But no, they were serious. After we showed up with our plentiful pumpkin pull, credit card in hand, they really did pick them up one by one and go, "Well... that one's pretty small, $3; I'd say that one is big, $6. That one is kind of inbetween, hmmm... $4.75." It was hilarious... and we ended up bringing home half a dozen pumpkins for about $25. We said to each other, "This place is awesome, we should find a reason to come back."

While we were there, we noticed that part of the farm was also dedicated to growing Christmas trees. We loved the place so much, we took a card so we could maybe find our way back come December to cut down our own tree. Then we loaded our pumpkin prizes into the car and drove the two hours back home. Upon pulling into our driveway, the KingofHearts noticed something in his pocket: the clippers from the farm.

He'd stolen the clippers from the farm.

I felt badly about it and he promised to mail them back (we had their address on the business card, after all) to keep me from forcing him to immediately drive back two hours and return them. But, of course, he never actually got around to mailing them, so when it came time to talk about getting a tree for Christmas, I insisted that we go back there to cut down a tree and return the clippers. It was the least we could do. I know... my guiltless, theiving, childhood conscience would be ashamed of the fine, upstanding citizen I've become.

Anyway, it just so turned out that a friend in West Virginia was starring as Mrs. Cratchet in her church's production of A Christmas Carol, so we turned it into an all Christmas, all the time, weekend. Tickets to the play included a formal-ish lunch, so we dressed up in our Christmas-y best to attend a dinner theatre and hyped up The Dormouse with, "We're going to go see a play! Woo hoo, a play! We love plays!" She couldn't have been more excited. At least until somewhere after Mr. Scrooge's visit from Jacob Marley, when it finally occurred to her that a "play" turned out to be not exactly what she expected. I don't think she'll soon forgive us the fact that she was not allowed to actually "play" and she had to stay down off the stage and not touch any of the cool toys or costumes or dress up like the rest of the people.

Ultimately, it was an adorable production and she was a pretty good theatre-goer, only stealing the show from the actors twice. The first time was when the Ghost of Chrismas Future pointed and uttered his Lurch-from-The-Addams-Family-like "Urrrrrrrrrr!" and she loudly announced "Ghost! Wooooo ooooo!"; and once again when Scrooge woke up on Christmas morning, laughing and dancing around because he hadn't missed it afterall - she squealed with delight and yelled at the top of her lungs, "So silly! He's a funny man.", which I think even made Scrooge break character for a second.

Afterwards, we went back to the farm with our tails between our legs and first returned the clippers. The woman there said, "Thanks for brining them back" and gave us that day late and dollar short look that seemed to say, a lot of good they'll do us now, bitch, you think we can use these to cut down trees?

My conscience quelled, we headed out to the Christmas tree area of the farm, where we spent hours looking for the best, the straightest, the most perfectly shaped, the quintessential perfect Christmas tree. Once discovered, we stood back and admired it's beauty, praised the Maker of all things nature and lovely in the world... then KoH pulled out the saw he'd been given at the entrance and we cut the sucker down.

Let's hear it for the meaning of Christmas.

KoH sawed and sawed and sawed some more until he got through the tree. He moved back to yell "timber" and look up as it fell.

It still stood upright.

He looked at me and blinked a couple of times, then reached up and pushed on the trunk and it went toppling over. I think it may have been trying to tell us something, but we patently ignored any whisperings from nature that might have drawn attention to the irony of this whole Christmas tree custom.

We dragged the tree back to the front of the farm to be measured and paid. It ended up being quite a bit more expensive than half a dozen pumpkins, by the way. They suck you in with the cheap pumpkins, then you gotta pony up the dough for a five and a half foot tree with a two and a half foot long rougue branch sticking out at the top. "Looks like that's about eight feet... that'll be $50 please."

We asked them to wrap it up for transport and it was handed to a Humorless Farm Worker, who stuck the tree through the smaller of two orange barrels in the hut and out the other side where it emerged, covered in that plastic, seagull trapping wrap, ready to be tied to the top of NotAnSUV.
The Dormouse entertained herself by playing near the larger of the orange barrels as KoH tried to chat up the man taking our money.

KoH: "Do you own this farm?"

Humorless farm worker: "No, I just work here."

KoH: "Oh really? Who owns it?"

Humorless farm worker: "The guy I work for."


KoH: *trying again* "What do you use the bigger of the orange barrels for?"

Humorless farm worker: "Bigger trees."

OK, so it wasn't a Norman Rockwell Christmas Outing. But I'm reasonably sure that it's as close as we'll ever get.